Here is what I see happening today:
First, Jobs numbers confuse traders. The strong ADP jobs numbers, followed by the weak ISM Services number, which also included a weak employment component, has everyone scratching their heads...is the job market getting better or not?
The ADP report has not exactly had stellar accuracy recently. Last month ADP reported a gain of 130,000 (subsequently revised today to 184,000), while the Nonfarm Payroll report was 204,000.
Bottom line: Confirms an economy that is sending confusing signals about jobs; stocks not interested in moving ahead of Friday's number.
Second, Volatility Index (VIX) choppy but not flashing a clear warning. It climbed today, but then collapsed. It has gone from around 12.7 last Thursday to 14.5 today, not enough to cause alarm.
Third, budget deal near, a positive--and maybe a negative. Yes it's a modest deal with no Grand Bargain, but it removes any shutdown drama in January. That's a positive.
Here's the downside: Bernanke mentioned some time ago that the inability of the government to come up with a plan was a factor in the Fed declining to begin tapering--way back at the October meeting. Resolution of that might increase chances that tapering begins sooner.
Fourth, retail same-store sales out tomorrow: so far, it's "sell the news" on the Thanksgiving retail reports. The SPDR Retail ETF (XRT) is down three days in a row. It's a tough week for former leaders in this space: